If you're wondering which pump or meter is best for you, here are some facts to consider, from Devon Carlson, MS, RD, of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Medical Center in New York City and Rita Louard, MD, of the Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Insulin Pumps

  • Switching from insulin injections to insulin pump therapy can offer much more precision in the insulin dosage. "And there is less chance of hypoglycemia, too," Carlson says.
  • If you are debating going to a pump, try to attend an explanatory class through a nearby hospital or medical center, Carlson says. If there's nothing available near where you live, ask your doctor or diabetes educator to help you decide.
  • Most pump users will purchase one of three pumps that provide both the basal insulin (the tiny amount of insulin distributed over each hour for 24 hours) as well as the bolus insulin (which is delivered to cover carbohydrate consumption and to correct and lower high blood sugar), explains Carlson.
  • For small children with type 1 diabetes, pumps that can deliver extremely tiny doses of insulin are a good choice.
    "For our younger patients, this is great since their insulin needs are so small," Carlson says. "It's difficult to achieve that small of a dose with multiple daily insulin injections."
  • Pumps aren't for everybody, though, and it is important to have a discussion with your doctor about whether a pump is right for you. Even if you do decide to switch to a pump, you will need to keep a supply of syringes on hand. "Pump failure is not common but it does happen," Carlson says. "It's good to know the basics of multiple daily insulin injections so that if your pump fails, you can use syringes until you get a replacement pump."
  • While very young patients may be put right on an insulin pump because it's possible to give them tiny doses of insulin, teenagers and adults usually use syringes first so they become familiar with them. "We teach them how to use these in case of pump failure," Carlson explains.

    Glucose Meters

  • You'll be checking your blood sugar six to ten times a day if you have type 1 diabetes, so you should familiarize yourself with your glucose meter as quickly as possible.
  • Most meters offer a reading on the blood sugar within five to ten seconds and they all operate in similar fashion, Carlson says.
  • Some meters require a drop or two of more blood, but the amount is very minimal, Carlson says.
  • Keep in mind that your glucose meter does not tell your pump what insulin dose to deliver. "[Some types of] pump[s] and the meter speak to each other in that the meter sends the blood sugar reading to the pump," Carlson explains. "But you still need to decide how much insulin to give."
  • The new continuous glucose sensors check a diabetic's blood sugar level every couple of minutes and can enable fine tuning of the insulin dose. "These sensors offer an early warning system if your blood sugar is going up or down," Louard says. "And if you are the parent of a child with diabetes, these can be a real godsend."